Start Early and Stay Organized to Make the Most of Your College Prep
Whether you’re a senior in the middle of a sea of college essays, or a freshman just starting your high school journey, there’s always some level of preparation you need to be focused on for the college admissions process. There are many different stages to preparing for college, and each can seem a little overwhelming to parents and students if they’re unsure of how to manage the process.
Here are some tips to help students manage the college admissions process, no matter what stage you’re in:
Don’t wait until senior year to start planning for the college admissions process. Colleges look at all four years of grades and activities, so it’s important to sit down with your college counselor as early as possible to develop an academic plan. Your adviser can help you choose which courses to take based on your strengths and interests, and also offer insight into which activities you should participate in and which might not be the best use of your time. A strategic plan that details the goals you want to achieve and the steps to take to reach those goals will help you prioritize your efforts throughout the years.
Use your time wisely.
Distractions and procrastination can strike any student. Plan out your study time and be sure to take short break in-between assignments or study sessions. Also prioritize your work. Tests and papers should be top of mind, so work on them in advance – not the night before. This requires structure and discipline, but you will get a lot more done. Time management is key to success inside and outside of the classroom, so take steps to make sure you’re using your time in the most efficient way possible.
It’s easy to get a handle on what you need to accomplish when it’s laid out right in front of you. Application and college planning checklists are a great tool to help you manage the process and stay organized. Not to mention, it feels great to check something off a long list! Keep a checklist to help you stay on top of deadlines and the tasks you need to complete this month or year in order to put your best foot forward when it comes time to apply to college.
Seniors: Focus on all of your schools, not just your early choice.
If you applied early, it can be tempting to “wait and see” before seriously working on your other college applications. However, since most early programs send out their decisions in mid-December and most regular applications are due in early January, putting off the other applications would be a mistake. Continued research should help you get excited about multiple colleges, instead of just focusing on one. That way, once you receive your early application decision, you will be prepared for all options.
Ask for help.
Your parents, friends, teachers, and counselors want you to succeed, so take advantage of these resources and remember that you are not alone. If you are facing anxiety about the new school year or the college admissions process, don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance. Especially if you’re struggling with bad grades or application stress, it’s important to know you have a support network that can help you ease some of the pressure.
The college admissions process is exciting – though it can also be stressful. While it is important to take the process seriously and do your very best, remember that it will all be okay! Stay motivated by using your last year of high school to get the most out of your classes and activities. Before you know it you’ll be graduating and moving on to the next chapter in your personal and academic life.